Building: VMP 5 Floor: Ground Room: 029
Norm entrepreneurs are regarded as central to the genesis, diffusion and maintenance of normative orders. However, a glance at the literature on norms reveals an unsystematic and incomplete/biased approach to the concept. Although a large number of different actors and their norm advocacy has been analyzed, the focus has so far been primarily on actors who have pushed the dissemination of Western liberal norms. This “liberal bias” of norm research is unfortunate as it prevents a thorough understanding of global norm dynamics and neglects an important part of reality. In fact, against the backdrop of the liberal world order being in crisis, there have been recent efforts to inquire into the phenomena of “autocracy promotion” or “illiberal norm diffusion”. Today, challenges to liberal norms are pervasive, be it China and Russia contesting and adapting the very heart of Western-liberal normative principles or US President Donald Trump disparaging international law thus questioning and undermining what has long been considered a normative consensus. Obviously, the liberal international order is being undermined not only by forms of outright rejection but maybe even more by practices of instrumentalization and re-interpretation.
Against this backdrop the question arises as to what extent definitions and operationalizations hitherto used by mainstream norm research, such as the concept of norm entrepreneurship, can also be applied to illiberal and non-liberal actors and what consequences this would entail. The panel starts at this blind spot. Using a set of categories derived from the literature on norms to identify prototypical norm entrepreneurs, the contributions examine both cases of support for non-liberal norms by supposedly liberal actors and the emergence of autocratic and illiberal states as norm entrepreneurs. The broadening of the spectrum of actors enables insights which have remained obscured by the hitherto Eurocentric application of the concept, such as to what extent autocratic or illiberal norm entrepreneurship goes beyond mere resistance to the current world order and in how far it differs from prototypical norm advocacy by Western states.